The Indian Ocean and the Pacific War :
Why the Axis could not establish a Joint Strategy
During World War Two, the attitude adopted by the Axis powers towards the Indian Ocean may have had a significant impact on the progress of the war. The Indian Ocean strategy was the only strategy whereby the Axis might have obtained victory. The Indian Ocean was the only area where navies of the Tripartite Pact countries might cooperate with similar objective against the same enemy. Furthermore, the Indian Ocean was the only possible route for exchanges of war materials and military technologies among the Axis powers. But this route was not effectively used, primarily because of mutual egotism, mutual distrust and mutual fantasies of victory. I would like to discuss the background and some of the reasons why the Axis powers were unable to establish a common goal and strategy in that region.
Advance to the South:Attack on Singapore
On the 1st of August 1940, as a purely personal opinion, German naval attache Captain (Admiral Wenneker in 1944) suggested to Captain Kojima Hideo, the Chief of Staff of the Naval General Staff, that “If Japan went into action against Hong Kong or Singapore, this step would undoubtedly be very much welcomed by the German side". Then on the 15th of August, he also hinted to Shiratori Toshio (Former Ambassador in Rome) that an immediate Japanese occupation of French Indochina and the Dutch East Indies “would have been very much appreciated by Germany”. 1 Then on the 22nd of November, Admiral Wenneker recommended the Japanese entry into the war and the seizure of Singapore. The Chief of the Navy Staff Admiral Ott Schniewind said that“The first and most important objective is the defeat of Britain. Any means towards that end is justified and so any assistance toward it is welcome. A Japanese entry into the war would, in my mind, represents a very considerable step in this direction. ……However, the disadvantage that this would create would not be as significant as the participation of Japan that would be a similar advantage. In particular, the disadvantage would not be so enormous for us, as America is to all intents and purposes already at war with us. And undoubtedly the main burden of this would fall on Japan. I therefore take the point of view that no means should be left untried to provoke the Japanese to move over to the offensive” 2. To this recommendation and in context of worse war situations in the defeat of Italy and of the loss of the sea control in the Mediterranean Sea, German invited Japan to attack Singapore. The Commander of the Navy reported to the Fuehrer, on the 27th of December 1940, that the seizure of Singapore would represent a major loss of prestige for Britain in the whole Indian, East Asian and Australian areas, as well as in the U.S.A and that the constant threat of its seizure would provide an easing in the naval warfare situation and in the strategic position in the Mediterranean and the Atlantic, and would tie down British forces.3
Meanwhile, on the 23rd of February, in the diplomatic field, at the first conversation between Ambassador Oshima and Reich Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop, the latter “declared that Ambassador Hiroshi Oshima had been justified as against the numerous skeptics in Japan with respect to the policy which he had pursued with Germany. By the victory of Germany in the West this policy had been completely uphold. ≫ Japan's cooperation was important for achieving the goal.4 Furthermore, the telegram which asked “to work with all the means at your command to the end that Japan should take possession of Singapore by surprise as soon as possible” was transmitted on the 27th of February. 5 According to these inquiries, Ambassador Ott visited the Chief of the General Staff, General Sugiyama Hajime, and also the Vice Chief of the Naval General Staff, Admiral Kondo on the 5th of March, just two days before Foreign Minister Matsuoka's departure for Germany, and stated that the preparations of the landing operation against Britain were already completed, and the problem is only determination of the Fuehrer……..on this decisive point, Japan could keep her Great East Asia Co-prosperity Sphere 6 To this statements, Admiral Wenneker “let it be known to Kondo that everything depended on the need to defeat Britain as swiftly as possible. Only the prospect of an imminent British capitulation would induce America to give up its present support and shrink back from involvement in the war. There was absolutely no question that Britain's resistance would collapse more rapidly with the participation of Japan than without it. Japan now has an opportunity to realize its goals that would not recur in 50 or 100 years. 7 According to the famous spy Richard Sorge's questioning papers, he replied that the Embassy of Germany in Tokyo, conducted an exercise of seizure of Singapore in the Embassy, directed by Ambassador Ott, Naval Attache Admiral Wenneker, Army Attache Captain Alfred Kretschmer, Air Attache Colonel Wolfgang von Gronau, and using this conclusion and result, they persuade Japanese side. But the Japanese were not moved and they were received only with Japanese smiles.8
Also, the military attaches and the political and economic experts in the Embassy undertook a study of the possibilities for and effects of Japan's involvement in the final stage of the war against Great Britain that basically coincides with the findings of our own assessment of Japan, and recommended that in the course of the visit of Matsuoka, it was desirable for reference to be made to operation“Barbarossa" currently under preparation.9 Concerning Matsuoka's visit to Berlin, the most important topic was naturally the time of Japan's entry into the war against England. In order to expedite this decision, Germany tried to plan flamboyant welcome to him and keep him as a German sympathizer and as a supporter for a Japanese participation in the German-Russian war on German side.10
While Matsuoka's intention was to join hands with Russia, believing Heinrich Stahmer's statement that Germany would do everything within her power to promote a friendly understanding and would act at any time to offer good offices to promote Japanese-Russian relations. Matsuoka believed this word and wanted to mediate the trouble between Japan and Russia, then to establish friendly relations with Russia against America using this Four Power Treaty with Russia. From the first meeting, on the 27th of March to the 4th of April, between Matsuoka, Hitler and the Reich Foreign Minister, Ribbentrop, both stated to Matsuoka that it would actually be very advantageous if Japan would decide as soon as possible to take an active part in the war upon England. Germany believed, for instance, that a quick attack upon Singapore would be a very decisive factor in the speedy overthrow of England. Reich Foreign Minister believed that from there it would be possible to work much more closely with Japan in naval and other matters. It was also certain that the capture of Singapore would be a very serious blow to England. This was of great importance, particularly in view of the rather bad morale already prevailing in the British Empire.11 During the conversation with the Fuehrer, Matsuoka agreed and said that the person who would like to capture the tiger cub should prepare to go into the den and take it away from its mother. It was regrettable that Japan had not yet eliminated those elements and that some of these peoples were even occupying influential positions. Japan would take action, and in a decisive form, if it had the feeling that otherwise it would lose a chance which could only occur once in a thousand years ; and in fact Japan would act without consideration of the state of its preparations, since there was always some people who claimed that preparations were insufficient. Matsuoka had also made this point with the two princes. The hesitant politicians in Japan would always delay and act partly from pro-British or pro-American attitude. Japan should first attack Singapore and bring to an end the British influence in that area and should then join the Tripartite Pact. The Japanese attack was only a question of time. Accordingly to his idea the attack should come as soon as possible. Unfortunately he did not control Japan, but had to bring those who were in control around to his point of view. He would certainly be successful someday. But at the present moment he could make no pledge on behalf of the Japanese Empire that it would take action12.
Then at the third meeting, Matsuoka pointed out in this connection that he was doing everything to smooth the British with regard to Singapore. He was acting as if Japan had no designs whatsoever on this key point of England in the East. It might therefore be shown that in his words and acts he would assume a friendly manner towards the English. But Germany should not miss it. He was assuming that manner not only in order to smooth the British, but also to mislead the pro-British and pro-American elements in Japan, until he should suddenly attack Singapore one day. Matsuoka was here following the words of a famous Japanese politician addressed to the Japanese Navy at the outbreak of the Russo-Japanese war;“Open fire, and the nation will then be united".13
At the conference on the 4th of April with Hitler, Matsuoka replied that on his return trip he would admit to the Emperor, to the Prime Minister, and to the Navy and War Ministers, if they asked, that the matter of Singapore had been discussed. He would, however, declare that this had been done only in a hypothetical way. In addition, Matsuoka expressly requested that nothing should be cabled on the subject of Singapore, because he feared that by use of telegrams something might slip out. In case of necessity, he would send a courier. Returning to Japan, Matsuoka concluded at Moscow the Russian-Japanese Neutrality Pact. This Pact was not anticipated by Germany. However Germany evaluated about this agreement that Moscow should of course believe that Berlin had from behind the stage sponsored this pact. Also, the way was now much more open for a Japanese drive southward14.
Barbarossa and Attack to the North
In the night of the 22nd of June, Matsuoka was informed by Ambassador Eugen Ott that the war with the Soviet Union had broken out, then Matsuoka called on the Emperor Hirohito and reported that now Japan should restrain advance south and advance north in order to cooperate with the Germans.15 And, at the Liaison Conference of the 27th of June, Matsuoka insisted strongly on the fact that this war would finish soon, and that the German-British war would also finish until this Autumn or at latest within this year. Japan should not be so hesitant.16
After having received this Ribbentrop's message, Matsuoka insisted, on the 30th of June, at the Liaison
Conference, to follow the German request for attacking the Soviet Union. He said : “We should participate to this war. We should stop the advance to South. We must advance North. I have been insisted on the advance to South before, but I now change my opinion to North. Heroes often change their intention”. Due to Matsuoka's strong opinion and also other different opinions, Liaison Conference continued on the 25th, 26th, 27th, 28th, 30th and the 1st of July, except Sunday, without getting conclusion. And finally on the 2nd of July, “The National Policy of Situation changed” which said that, though Japanese National policy were based on Tripartite Pact, Japan would not participate at the German-Soviet war and prepare for war against the Soviet Union secretly and if German-Soviet war proceeded favorably for Japan, Japan would solve the Northern problem. This views were approved by the Emperor.17 On the Gozenkaigi (Report for the Emperor), again Matsuoka insisted on attacking the Soviet Union. About such a Matsuoka's behavior, after the Gozenkaigi, Emperor Hirohito asked Prime Minister Konoe why Matsuoka's opinion was neglecting the treaty of mutual neutrality. He didn’t wish to have such a Foreign Minister and asked Konoe to change Matsuoka. but Konoe didn't obey the Emperor's intention and he gave up his cabinet.18
While from Germany, again on the 1st of July, a message from Ribbentrop to Matsuoka was transmitted, and on the 5th and the 17th, Ribbentrop directed Ott that Japan should participate to the war, and blamed Matsuoka's talk in Berlin when he said that, though it existed a Neutrality Pact with the Soviet Union, Japan would attack the Soviet Union, in case that Germany should begin war with the Soviet Union and ask Japan to participate to the war. 19 By this directives ambassador Ott visited not only Matsuoka, but also Chief of General Staff of Army, General Sugiyama, and explained the present situation of European war, and recommended participation to the war. Also Germany Embassy members were moving quick to make a false information in order to induce Japan to the war with the Soviet Union. Army attache colonel Kretschmer informed Army General Headquarters that many troops were sent from the eastern front to the western front, and that, among the prisoners of the Soviet Army, there were many soldiers from the Eastern division. Assistant Air Attache Lt colonel Nehmitz was asked by Ambassador Ott to write a paper saying that only 50 new airplanes were deployed in the Far East region, then Ott handed over this false information to Matsuoka.20
As Army was overestimated the German military power, there were positive Southern Advance Groups, represented by Colonel Sato Kenzo, the chief of Staff of Army Affairs in the Army Ministry, who saw in this the chance that the Soviet threat would be reduced, so that Japan could afford to advance to the South. The Northern Advance Group, represented by the Chief of the First (Operation) Division of the Army General Staff, General Tanaka Shinichi insisted that Japan should find a destined reason and should now attack the Soviet Union. But the section of the War Guidance Section in General Headquarters insisted on not moving immediately, but getting ready and re-enforcing the armament first and waiting for a more favorable chance to come. Opinion was divided into three different groups, the first group insisted on holding defensive stance in the north and advance in the south, the second group insisted on keeping defense in the south and advance in the north, the third group insisted on waiting for a more favorable situation and then deciding either to move north or south.
Because of these divided opinions, conferences between Army Ministry and Army General Staff were continued from morning until night on the 23th and the 24th of June. 21 But in this change of situation, the Army began Kan Tokuen (Kwantung Army's Mobilization Exercise) aiming to the attack against the Soviet Union in September, if the Soviet Army was removed to the European front. 12 divisions of Manchuria and 2 divisions of Korean Army were participating to this exercise. The Mobilization exercise started on the 7th of July, 2nd mobilization began on the 16th, and it continued until the middle of August. By this exercise 800.000 troops, 140.000 horses and 600 aircrafts were removed to Manchuria. 22 But, in the Army “North Advance” fever was quickly dismissed by American stoppage of capital and oil to Japan. The amount volume of food and ammunition moved to Manchuria by this exercise was a great quantity, and it was said that hereafter those ammunition were removed to the Pacific front, but half of these supplied materials was still remaining in August 1945, when the Soviet Army intruded Manchuria.23
Meanwhile the Japanese Navy assessed this German request and No.7 Section of the Naval General Staff made a report named “German-Soviet War and International Situation and Policy which Navy should take for this Situation”. By this report, world was divided into two distinctly by this war, and the relations between Britain, America, China and the Soviet Union would become more tightly. Their movement would become more cooperatively in the military field. So Japan should prepare for any situation to meet our armament, keeping neutrality and should not enter the war. Japan should keep the neutrality pact rigidly, though keeping the friendly relations with Germany.24
Then, on the 26th of June, the Chief of Naval Affairs of the Navy Ministry transmitted a telegram to all the naval commanders, chiefs of the whole organization and attaches, ordering them not to misjudge the general situation of the world but to keep a considerably cool attitude for this war.25 And also to the Army, as Navy was anxious about Army northern advance, as judging Army General Staff Sugiyama and Army Minister Tojo could't control Army itself, and Army was going to guide Japan into the War. So on the 12th of August, the Vice Chief of the Naval General Staff sent the message saying that navy could’nt be ready for Northern advance until the end of August. Mobilization exercise should be held more secretly and more cautiously.26
After Japanese Participation of the War:Germany’s Difference Requests
On the 12th of December 1941, in Tokyo, at a reception celebrating German and Italian participation to the war against America, the Chief of Japanese Imperial Naval staff, Admiral Osami Nagano, asked the German naval attache, Rear Admiral Paul Wenneker, if Germany could hold to passive operation against the Soviet Union and change to concentrating its effort on the Suez area.27 Meanwhile in Berlin, on the 17th of December, the Japanese naval delegation was invited to the German Naval General Headquarters (OKM). At this meeting, Admiral Kurt Fricke, the Chief of the German Naval Staff, explained that neither a landing operation against Britain, which Japan had expected to be very difficult, nor the air raids could subdue Britain. The only hopeful operation to subdue Britain would be a blockade by submarines.
After these first meetings, and until the end of the war, the German navy urged the Imperial Navy to adopt a defensive stance in the Pacific against the American navy and to take an offensive position against the British in the western Indian Ocean. Meanwhile, Vice Admiral Naokuni Nomura, the Chief of the Tripartite Naval Commission in Berlin, emphasized the necessity for a simultaneous attack on the Middle East, with Germany and Italy coming from the Mediterranean and the Caucasus, then Japan advancing from the Indian Ocean. Both offensives had to coincide, otherwise any drive by the Japanese navy into the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean would fail. This illustrated how the Germans and Japanese always followed different courses in their discussions. 28
In early 1942, after Japan accomplished complete success in the initial strategic objectives of the “First Stage Operation” of the war - the occupation of the South East areas, the Imperial Army was again fancying Germany victory. By this dream, army insisted on a defensive strategy and withdrew forces from the Pacific theater to reinforce the Kwantung Army in order to attack the Soviet Union. Thus, in early June 1942, the Kwantung Army became the most powerful military force of any time during the Pacific War, totaling sixteen Infantry divisions, two tank divisions (after September), one cavalier division, 650,000 personnel, 675 tanks and 750 aircrafts.29
These splits in the strategy were a result of a mutual fascination between Germany and Japan. The different goals of the two countries dated back to before the war. Until immediately before the outbreak of the Pacific War, the war planners of the Japanese Imperial General Headquarters (JIGH) and the Japanese Naval General Staff (JNGS) believed that Japan could not successfully fight a protracted war with the United States because of the wide differences in military strength, resources and production capabilities between the two countries. Japan, and the army in particular, strongly counted on Germany and Italy being ultimately victorious in Europe. Japan had a lingering dream that the German army would gain victory on the Soviet Union, that a landing operation on Britain would be conducted, and that Britain would surrender. Then discouraged America would apply to peace offers.30 However, on the 5th of December, the German army was defeated in Stalingrad.
There was not any real political or military common objectives between both countries. Each partner tried to use the other in order to support its own political and military objectives. The German army counted on the Japanese Kwantung Army attacking the Soviet army on the Siberian front. But the Japanese army refused throughout the War to attack Russia or to provoke the Soviet Union into hostility. The Japanese navy also did not interrupt war supplies shipments from the United States to the Soviet Union by way of Siberia. The German navy counted on the Japanese navy, at first to function as a deterrent against the United States Navy, then the British navy. It had requested the seizure of Singapore repeatedly before the war.31 But after German-American relations became strained, Germany counted on the Japanese navy as a counter-balance against the United States Navy. But, for the Japanese navy, there were no expectations on the German navy. Furthermore, the Tripartite Pact introduced two enemies, the United States Navy in the Pacific and the British navy in the Indian Ocean. Moreover, Hitler over-estimated the Japanese navy especially after the Pearl Harbor attack. By these mutual over-estimations and fascinations, a confrontation of national-interest would have arisen after the victory. And also, there was the split of strategy between Germany and Japan, there was also a split between the Imperial Army and Navy. Traditionally, in the Japanese navy, there was a pro-British feeling as it was trained by English instructors, while in army there was pro-German sentiment as it was trained by German instructors. To adjust and to negotiate a joint strategy, Japan sent two missions, one by the Transsiberian Railway in March 1943, another by airplane. At 08:10, on the 7th of July 1943, a long ranged twin engines civil experimental plane called A-26 (Ki-77) took off from Tengar airfield in Singapore, heading for Berlin via Rangoon and Creta Island. But there were no further information after take off.32
Split of the Strategy in the Japanese Navy and Army
In early February 1942 relating to the second stage operation, the Navy insisted on, after the advantages gained in the early successes, conducting more offensive operations, against the United States Fleet. The Combined Fleet was especially aggressive. It even planned to conquer Hawai, which, would force the American fleet into the much desired decisive battle. But when it became apparent that this project could not be carried out because of poor air power unable to destroy the American land-based air power, it concluded it would advance toward the west. It drew up a plan to destroy the British Eastern Fleet and occupy Ceylon. It wished to establish contact with the European Axis in the Middle East. The Combined Fleet conducted wargames of this operation from the 20th to the 22nd of February 1942. But this far-reaching plan was not approved because of the army's objection. The Army opposed such an operation because it would run risk of diminishing Japan's readiness against the Soviet Union in Manchuria and weakening war effort in China. 33 As the Imperial Army was fancying German victory and still holding to the hope of invading one day the Soviet Union, the army refused the westward operation as it could not provide necessary troops for this operation. Thus, the positive Indian Ocean operations became a limited one. The occupation of the Nicobar and the Andaman Islands was ordered on the 4th of February. Finally on the 7th of March, 1942, a limited offensive to seize the Samoa Islands, the Fiji islands, and New Caledonia, in addition to the operation previously decided upon to seize Port Moresby, was agreed between army and navy. 34
Meanwhile, Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, Commander of the Combined Fleet, had already ordered to Admiral Chuichi Nagumo to attack Port Darwin and Ceylon in order to destroy the British airpower and the British Eastern Fleet. By this operation, the Nagumo carrier group (five large carriers, four fast battleships and two heavy cruisers) attacked Port Darwin on the 9th of February, Colombo on the 5th of April and Trincomalee on the 9th of April. By these operations, the Nagumo carriers force sunk one old carrier, two heavy cruisers and several escort ships, and pushed British Eastern Fleet to East Africa.These Japanese offensive operation gave the German naval staff reported to Hitler “golden opportunity” and on the 13th of February, “the German naval staff will be in Japanese hands within a few weeks......Japan plans to protect this front in the Indian Ocean by capturing the key position of Ceylon, and she also plans to gain control of the sea in that area by mean of superior naval forces.” 35
The Doolittle's (James Doolittle) surprise raid on the homeland on the 18th of April 1942 brought a disaster to the Japanese navy. Admiral Yamamoto suddenly planned the Midway operation and he lost four carriers. In May 1942, the favorable actions of the German army in North Africa placed the British Near Eastern Army in an extremely critical situation, by this changes of the situation, the Ceylon operation was discussed hotly in Tokyo. The Army General Staff interpreted this German advance as a new possibility to realize the dream of uniting the Axis through the Indian area. Debates over a landing on Ceylon were reviewed from the end of May to the beginning of June 1942. The Army General Staff ordered to the No.38 and No.48 divisions to begin training of landing operation. 36 The Navy General Staff also agreed. However, the Combined Fleet was now suffering from a shortage of airpowers and battle-ready ships, having lost four carriers in the Battle of Midway. By this reason, only surface ships and land airplanes were ordered to carry out offensive operations in the Bay of Bengal. Thus, two heavy cruisers, one light cruiser and twelve destroyers were added under the command of the First Southern Expeditionary Fleet and formed up in late July at Mergui, on the west coast of the Malaya Peninsula. But this offensive operation was cancelled by the American landing on Guadalcanal. Thus, a series of events from Doolittle's air raid and the American landing operation on Guadalcanal had caused abandonment of offensive operations in the Indian Ocean.
Meanwhile in July 1942, as the Japanese army estimated the German army's advance to the Middle East would not be realized in for a while, the Japanese army changed its strategic goal from defeating Britain to defeating China. On the 8th of July 1942, the Army General Staff ordered preparations for the offensive operation in South-West China. Though this operation was cut down scales by opposition of the navy, but conducted from the 1st of April 1944. For this operations in China, the army deployed seven divisions, 500,000 personnel, 100,000 horses, 1500 guns in the southern China to seize strongholds where it was expected that American strategic bombers would be based to attack Japan.37 Thus, when the American full scale offensive began, the Japanese army was fighting in China and in the Pacific theater halfheartedly, army only had eleven divisions in the Pacific and Indian theaters.
The Axis Indian Strategy
Japanese leaders understood the weakness of Britain's position in India but, as it was beyond Japanese capability to take direct military measures against India, there was no concrete plan concerning India before the war. The planners at the General Headquarters hoped that, through the Burma occupation, the Indian cooperation with the British would disrupt. An anti-British movement could be activated by propaganda, and the Indian people would rise up against British rule. On this understanding, at the Liaison Conference (conference between the General Headquarters and the government) in February 1942, the conference merely adopted the political and propaganda aspects of granting independence to Burma and India in the“Adjusted War Plan(Outline of National Policies in View of the Changing Situation)”. 38 On the 13th of April 1942, after the apparent failure of the Cripps mission to India, Foreign Minister Shigenobu Togo urged the Ambassador Ott to make at once a joint declaration of independence of India and Muslim countries. However, because of the Fuehrer's racial prejudice and his anticipation of a British-German compromise peace, the Fuehrer did not want to create a disturbance in India. He ignored the Japanese proposal, and Berlin's answer was cautious and passive, stipulating only that, “A Japanese declaration regarding Indian independence should be coordinated with respect to content as well as time.” 39
Hitler saw the Indian organization called “Fighters for Indian Freedom” as nothing but one of the “Asiatic Yellow Peril” ; and, because of the racial dogma of National Socialism, he would not wish to replace the British presence in India by Japanese rule. He considered that the joint declaration would help to establish there the supremacy of the “yellow man”, i.e. the supremacy of the Japanese. Milan Hauner, the author of “India in Axis Strategy” complained that Hitler and his lieutenants could not understand the importance that race and the anti-colonial struggle could have in their propaganda campaigns. If the joint strategy had been applied to India, the war might have taken a different course, not only in India, but also in the Islamic world. 40 But these racial problems were prevailing among Germany, not only for Indian, but also for Japanese. To this tendency the German Minister of Home Affairs issued on the 5th of June 1942 a confidential instruction to prohibit the use of “Yellow Peril” arguments for Japanese.41
When the Japanese offensive began, the National Congress Party in India led by Mohandas K. Gandhi, passed a resolution calling for British forces to evacuate India. Since the British would not comply, “passive resistance” arose all over India. Then, the fall of Singapore rendered 55,000 Indian soldiers captive to Japan. They should have been immediately transferred into freedom fighters and incorporated into an Indian National Army under command of the Indian revolutionary organization. But, Japanese did not use Indian prisoners of war at the first stage because Japan was fascinated with its victory. Among the Japanese military and political leaders there arose an ambition to extend the scope of “The Greater East Asian Co-prosperity Sphere” to include India. Therefore, the Japanese army did not want the Indian National Army to be responsible for the liberation of India. Japan only recognized it as useful auxiliary units which were only good for propaganda purpose.42
In Berlin, on the 22nd of February 1942, the Indian nationalist Chandra Bose declared that Japan would cooperate in the Indian liberation movement. He added that he wished to go to Japan in order to ask for independence of India under Japanese assistance. However, the Japanese response was cool, in part because another Indian organization existed in Thailand and because another Indian independence activist, Rash Behari Bose, had been living in Japan under the Japanese protection since 1918. So, despite of Chandra Bose's strong wish, his hope was not realized until early 1943.
Early in February 1943, Chandra Bose departed from Europe by U-boat U-180, heading to the east. On the 29th of April, in the Indian Ocean near Madagascar, he was transferred to the Japanese submarine I-29 and taken to Tokyo. He immediately organized the Indian National Army in July, established the Free India government in Singapore on the 21st of October, declaring war on both the United States and Britain. But it was too late. By that time, the Axis had already lost the strategic initiative. However, the Japanese submarines delivered to India thirty-two members of the Indian National Army who had been in training at the Sandicraft School as agents of Japan. Three trips were tried from December 1943 to March 1944. All but the first contingent of these parties were arrested, after decoding of their communications. 43
Difference in Naval Strategies ? The use of Submarines
It is said that one of the greatest failures of the Imperial Navy was the way they used submarines in the Pacific War. After the Battle of Midway, the submarine operations were the only effective operations in the Indian Ocean. Admiral Karl Doenitz, the head of the German submarine forces, and Vice Admiral Kurt Fricke explained and emphasized to Admiral Nomura that the operational focal point was Egypt, and that the Axis should attack before the Allies were ready. They repeatedly requested the deployment of the Japanese naval forces to coincide with German and Italian advance into Egypt and asked to change its target from heavy protected combatants to merchant ships. 44 However, the Japanese continued to view the capital ships of the United States Navy as their main opposition, and would not turn away from its traditional maritime strategy. Inspite of the strong protection offered by submarines and the strong German requests, the Japanese navy closed its eyes to the nature of total war and remained caught in the idea of the “decisive battle” and repeatedly sought to exploit its super power to bring about such a battle. The value of interrupting the ocean supply lines of the enemy was not recognized. Thus, after the American landing on Guadalcanal, most submarines were withdrawn from the Indian Ocean to intercept well protected American carriers and landing forces. But after the retreat from Guadalcanal, the Japanese Navy changed the use of submarine, and it formed No.8 Submarine Flotilla at Penang and began attacking merchant ships. But as the Pacific defense pulled back towards the homeland, these submarines were gradually re-deployed to the Pacific theater and all the submarines were frantically thrown into local areas such as the Philippine Sea, the Leyte Gulf, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa, attacking well-protected assault forces regardless of the losses.
The Japanese navy deployed 187 submarines during the Pacific war and lost 128 submarines, but 88 submarines were lost in above limited combat areas against well protected combatants. In the Indian Ocean, the Japanese navy deployed 38 submarines by 105 sorties, sunk 118 merchant ships of 6.000.057 tons and damaged 15 ships of 9.5754 tons, only losing 4 submarines from the beginning of the war to the end, more precisely until the 20th of February 1944, when No. 8 Submarine Flotilla was disbanded. In contrast, in the Pacific, the Japanese submarines could sink only 23 combatants in including 2 carriers, 1 escort carrier and heavy cruiser and 67 merchant ships of 357,715 tons and damaged 41 ships of 321,428 tons losing 111 submarines in the Pacific.45
In August 1943, the German submarine U-178 entered Japanese submarine base at Penang, Malaya, to be stationed there. Japanese navy welcomed German submarines as a counterbalance against British offensive in the Indian Ocean. The German navy committed in total 57 U-boats (four come out twice, and U-181 three times), excluding the cargo boats. 35 boats were lost in action and another 6 boats interned by Japan. However, 151 Allied ships of 892,111 tons were sunk in the Indian Ocean between October 1942 to the end of the war. 51 U-boats excluding the cargo boats, 6 percent of the 863 U-boats that made war patrols in World War Two, accounted 7.1 percent of the total Allied tonnage lost to U-boats in the war. These figures were higher than those in the Atlantic and in the Mediterranean.46 Therefore, the Japanese accomplishment in the Indian Ocean had almost the same success ratio than that of the German submarines in the Indian Ocean. From these figures it may be said that Japanese and German submarine operations in the Indian Ocean were successfully held tactically, but not strategically. The U-boats made no attempt to support Rommel's effort during the days of his greatest successes by interdicting at the Suez Canal the Allied logistics effort in the Indian Ocean. The commander of the German submarine Fleet, Admiral Doenitz, was unwilling to dispatch submarines to the Far East and preferred to concentrate to the Mediterranean, as the German navy did not have the long-range submarines needed to deploy to the Far East, and as the operations in the Atlantic were still conducted successfully. For evaluating German U-boat operations deals with an examination of Doenitz' application of his “Tonnage warfare” theory in which total Allied tonnage sunk was more important than interdicting specofoc supply lines.
GermanーJapanese Exchanges through the Indian Ocean
In the early stage of the war, the main line of communication between the Axis Powers was via the Trans-Siberian Railway or by blockade-runners. But, after the Operation Barbarossa, the continental line was cut and there remained only the blockade-runners. From April of 1941 to May of 1942, 16 blockade-runners left for Europe and 14 of them arrived, by these ships Germany could receive 75,000 gross tons of rubber and food. But from August of 1942 to April of 1943, among 15 ships only 4 runners could return, it decreased only to 29,600 gross tons in that period. 47 Thus, in the spring of 1943, German raider and blockade-runner operations had to halt. After that German navy stepped in to demand that U-boats take over the supply missions from the Far East. Their planned deployment pattern was to visit Penang and Singapore after a standard war patrol in the Indian Ocean. At these visits they would be repaired, overhauled, refreshed and then would conduct another war patrol back to Germany with a cargo of some 150 tons of high priority raw materials. However, while ten specially designed transport submarines, or six Italian transport submarines were sent into the Indian Ocean, none were to return home.
The Japanese navy also dispatched five submarines to Europe to receive Germany technology and to exchange personnel. Four arrived in Europe, but only two reached as far as Singapore and one as far as Japan. All these submarines had Japanese and German technicians on board, German's newest weapons and blueprints.
Japanese submarines for Europe48
Sub. Non Dept. Kure Arr.Lorient Dep.Lorient Lost(Place) or Returned Japan
(Code Name) (or Brest) (or Brest) (Place)
I-30(Kirschblute) 17.04.42 05.08.42 22.08.42 13.10.42(Lost:China Sea)
I-8(Flieder) 01.06.43 21.08.42 05.10.43 Arrived Kure,21.12.43
I-34(Tanne) 13.09.43 13.11.43(Lost:off Penang)
I-29(Kiefer) 05.11.43 11.03.44 16.04.44 26.07.44(Lost:Formosa)
I-52(Fohre) 21.03.44 24.06.44(Lost:Asores)
By way of this inter-submarine transportation, in total 72 Japanese were able to reach Germany, while twenty-two Japanese, eight German officers and technicians and one German submarine(U-511) were able to come to Japan. But, the exchange of strategical materials between Japan and Germany did not go smoothly. Germany depended more on Japan for its rubber from South-East Asia. However, Japan wanted to maintain control on strategical materials within her “Greater East Asian Co-prosperity Sphere” and did not allow direct contact in these regions. Japanese support for blockade-runners was halfhearted, as long as the Axis offensive in the war was succeeding. This egoistic attitude of both countries can be clearly seen in the Axis Military Agreement of January 1942. The only concrete concordance in this agreement was the use of the 70th Degree of Eastern Longitude to mark the boundary line between the German and Italian area of operations and the Japanese area of operations. But, there arose strong opposition from both countries, as the Japanese delegation was instructed from Tokyo to insist on this line for the future sphere of Japanese control. The German Chief of Military-Economic and Armaments also opposed the line, but because it passed through important mineral ore-producing areas in western Asia and part of the Soviet Union. The Reich Foreign Ministry also opposed the fact that British India would be within the Japanese sphere of control.49
Japan also considered Germany as a potential supplier of technical know-how and equipment. Hitler recognized this, and in a directive on 5 March 1941, ordered that “it is essential that Japan's war fighting capabilities be increased by all means available. To this end, the high command of the three services are to meet Japanese requests for information about war and battlefield experiences as well as for assistance in military-economic and technical matters in a comprehensive and generous fashion”. 50 But, because of the obsession with victory, the transfer of manufacturing licenses was difficult, and Hitler's directive did little to solve the problem. Not only German patent-holders, but also German navy was passive in this direction. For example, in 1941, Admiral Erich Raeder, Commander of the German navy, emphasized the protection of German technical know-how of German industries and he dispatched the following directive : “The conclusion of the Three Power Pact as such does not bind us in any way to reciprocal gestures. The measure of response to Japan, which thinks it can demand that Germany sell its birth-right under the motto of it being“essential for the fufilment of the Three Power Pact, is solely dependent on the state of military-political interests at any given time” 51.
Whether paid by the Japanese or compensated by the German government, the German patent-holders continued to refuse giving important technical and manufactual information to the Japanese. Some German companies feared that the Japanese companies could use the technology to compete more effectively after the war, infringing on Germany's markets. 52 As these examples show, the failure to achieve co-operation was mainly due to mutual national egotism, mutual jealousies, mutual distrust, mutual over-estimation of military capability, and mutual fascination with victory.53
We may say that the submarine campaign in the Indian Ocean was successfully conducted. But the Indian Ocean operations came to an end without bringing about any success in the war, mostly because of differences in national interests between Japan and Germany, differences of strategic goals between the Japanese navy and army, and differences between the German navy and army. The Imperial Japanese Army saw China as its primary enemy and was also dreaming about German victory against the Soviet Union. While the German navy fought in the Atlantic, using submarines to break enemy supply lines, the Imperial Japanese Navy fought massive naval battles in the Pacific, lacking of the most effective use of submarines forces.
Inspite of the devotion to the country, as the Indian Ocean submarine war was ended misconceived, misdirected, after the war there remained memories among the submariners who participated in the war and who were tried as B-class war criminals for their brutal behavior in the Indian Ocean, because of machine-gunning of survivors clinging to lifeboats and rafts. On the 30th of August 1945, after the war ended, Captain Tatsunosuke Ariizumi, the commanding officer of the I-401, a 3500 tons class submarine capable of carrying three aircraft, who accomplished a sixty-four day round trip to Europe, shot himself upon entering Yokosuka, for fear of being charged as a war criminal for the massacre of unarmed merchant seaman, the Dutch merchant ship Tjisalak and the American armored cruiser SS Jean Nicolet.54
Not only commanding officers but also petty officers were convicted of war crimes and spent up to twenty years in Sugamo-prison. At the war criminal court, the accused commanders testified about these actions that they were acting under military orders. Vice Admiral Hisahi Ichioka, Commander of the No.8 Submarine Flotilla, who served twenty years term of imprisonment, testfied that he was definitely asked by Vice Admiral Yu Nakazawa, the Chief of Naval General Staff for Operations, to murder the survivors, while Admiral Nakazawa's defense counsel insisted that this was at the request of the German navy. But, there is no proven fact concerning this request.55.